To help beat the January blues, the RSPCA has revealed some of the craziest calls it received over the last 12 months.
The animal welfare charity responds to more than 1.1 million calls every year across England and Wales, with officers rescuing more than 110,000 annually. But not all calls are quite as they first sound.
RSPCA inspector Marije Zwager couldn’t believe it when she received a call on 10 May reporting a tiger being kept in a cramped cage in a garden near Exeter, Devon.
Inspector Zwager said: “The person who called us was concerned as they claimed they had seen a tiger in a cage in a garden. They were persistent that is what they’d seen, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but soon realised that it wasn’t a tiger at all, it was just a soft toy. The owner could really see the fun side too.
“He’s called Tiddles the Tiger and shares his home with two male neutered rabbits called Horace and Boris, who have a fantastic home filled with all kinds of enrichment and entertainment to keep them happy and healthy. From a distance it was difficult to see what was in the cage, so I don’t blame the caller for getting in touch, it’s good to know that there are people out there who are looking out for animals.”
What a hoot!
An RSPCA animal collection officer on-call over a busy weekend drove 55 miles to Shrewsbury, Shropshire, to help a trapped baby owl on a roof. But when she arrived, on 4 January, she realised there wouldn’t be much she could do to bring the bird back to life – as it was made of stone.
Cara Gibbon said: “The baby owl turned out to be a statue. I was really pleased that the little chap didn’t need rescuing, but we’d always encourage people to chat to their neighbours and double-check they need our help before calling in. Having said that we are often called to birds with fishing lines tangled around their legs when they get stuck in aerials and trees.”
When RSPCA Inspector Paul Seddon was called to a report of a salamander in an apartment in Bilston, West Midlands, he was quite intrigued having never come across this kind of amphibian before during his career.
The caller was terrified and wouldn’t go near the balcony of the second-floor apartment where she’d spotted the critter. Inspector Seddon said: “I went over to the balcony and when I looked through the window, I could see the salamander – and could see it was a soft toy complete with labels.
“So instead of getting any equipment out to capture the creature as I expected – I borrowed a brush to knock it off onto the ground so I could pick it up. The woman seemed shocked to find out it was only a toy but relived at the same time and was very apologetic. She called us with good intentions and these things sometimes happen.”
RSPCA Inspector Ellie Burt was called in to help a collapsed fox that turned out to be stuffed. She rushed to Exeter, Devon on 8 April after a local resident grew concerned for a fox that had been hiding under a bush in the area.
Ellie said: “The fox was described as lethargic and collapsed in the undergrowth. The caller said it was losing weight in recent weeks and hadn’t moved for the past few days. We asked them to try the broom test – to ensure the fox were still alive – and were told that it didn’t move but tracked them with its eyes and seemed to be breathing well.”
But when Ellie arrived, she realised it wasn’t tracking anyone with its eyes – because it was a stuffed fox.
“He’d clearly been placed under a bush outside of the houses as a prank. After speaking to some of the neighbours, I soon discovered that someone had been moving it around the neighbourhood.”